By Paolo Cisneros | LiCore AC
There’s an adage that journalism professors have taught their students for decades:
If your mother says she loves you, check it out.
As simple as it sounds, this saying gets at something deeper than the need for factual accuracy. It reminds reporters that the ideas they take for granted are often more nuanced than they initially appear.
Such is the case with renewable energy. For those of us concerned about climate change, the transition away from fossil fuels is such welcome news news that it’s difficult to recognize the potential for harm. Specifically, what will become of rural communities whose land is newly prized for its renewable energy generation potential? As the construction costs of solar panels and wind turbines continue to decrease, what’s to prevent monied interests from muscling people off their ancestral homes? How can the global community embrace the renewable revolution while ensuring the planet’s most vulnerable citizens aren’t forced to bear the burden?
This is the dilemma Cooperen will address.
Cooperen is a partnership between LiCore AC — a Mexican research organization and tech developer — and the residents of Ucareo, Michoacán. Together, these groups are working to construct a community-owned solar farm in the rural, fruit-producing community.
The energy produced by the plant will be sold to the Mexican electric commission for consumption by Mexicans across the country. Profits from these sales will then be reinvested in the community through infrastructure projects, local programming or whatever else residents deem necessary. The end result: the Mexican energy system receives additional solar capacity, and the Ucareo community receives a reliable public income stream.
While Ucareo will host the pilot plant, LiCore plans to develop similar projects in interested communities across Mexico. What’s in it for us? LiCore seeks to support Mexican technological innovation across a variety of projects. Our involvement in Cooperen is rooted in the belief that locally-developed technologies — when teamed with community resourcefulness — can provide an avenue for sustainable Mexican development.
LiCore will construct the Ucareo plant and assist residents in researching possible legal structures for owning and operating the panels. Once up and running, however, the organization will walk away and leave the solar plant fully under the control of the Ucareo community. It will not receive any financial gain for its involvement.
Administering its new resource will undoubtedly be a challenge. It’s unlikely the entire community will agree on how to divvy up its finite income stream. Still, communities around the world have proven that residents working together can cultivate democratic institutions that make such decisions possible.
In the coming months, LiCore will launch a multi-faceted fundraising campaign aimed at securing the resources necessary to construct the Ucareo plant. Your support will allow us to build the facility; work with community members to develop a functional governing structure; and articulate a financial plan that will allow for this project to be replicated in communities across Mexico.
In exchange for your donation, you’ll receive insider access to the project and the satisfaction of knowing you’re a part of the movement for environmental justice.
We hope you’ll join us in this exciting project.